Archive for category Christianity
Today’s readings are:
In Genesis, we have the story of the tower of Babel. It’s short, so here it is:
Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
On the surface, it might be confusing why God would not want them to be able to do anything if unified. But, it’s interesting they used man-made materials (bricks and tar) rather than natural (God-made) materials. Does this tell us something about their hearts and their motivation. They were trying to make a city and a name for themselves.
I think it’s important to note that we are able to do anything if we are unified. This is a message for the church today! But, not to make a name for ourselves, but always for the glory of God and the building of His kingdom.
In Matthew today, we have one of Jesus’ most famous sermons, the sermon on the mount. “The Sermon on the Mount is probably the best-known part of the teaching of Jesus, though arguably it is the least understood, and certainly it is the least obeyed” says author John Stott.
There’s also a good reminder for us as Christians in today’s reading. We are to be the salt and light of the earth. If we lose our “flavor”, what good are we? Let’s be salt and light today.
I am amazed by the story of Noah. It’s so hard to take it in. How bittersweet it must have felt for Noah to realize that God honored him above all others and saved only he and his family to restart mankind.
In Matthew, Jesus just had the encounter with satan in the wilderness and now is preparing to begin his ministry on earth.
Today’s Psalm is actually a song written by David. I sure wish I had the chord chart!
Keep reading along. We’re going through the entire Bible in a year!
Here’s the reading list for today:
Well, here it is. Genesis 3. The fall of mankind. I cringe each time I hear Eve’s response:
“The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
Did you see it? God never said anything about “touching” the fruit. Already she is twisting what God said. And, she falls for the serpent’s deceit.
Also – some folks (usually men) like to point out that it was Eve that first took the fruit. Well, I would like to point out that Adam was standing right there next to her when she did. He didn’t say a word. He’s just as guilty as her:
“She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”
Buckle in – we’re just getting started. Are you with us? We’re reading the entire Bible in a year.
Is it just me or didn’t we just read this?
Here’s a section from chapter 18:
10 The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 11 and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.
Here’s a section from chapter 19:
9 But an evil spirit from the Lord came on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the lyre, 10 Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape.
As any intelligent man would, David finally learns the king’s palace is not the safest place for him to hang out.
How sad for Saul that even his own children have fallen in love with the one he has come to despise and wants to kill. How sad for Saul that his own children aid his enemy. How sad that God has left Saul. He must be the loneliest king on record.
I love the next part – where Saul finds out where David is hiding and sends men to get him. They come near to where David is with Samuel, and God gets all over them and they all get the spirit of prophesy and go back to tell Saul. Twice more, Saul sends more men with the same result.
Finally, Saul figures he’s going to have to do this himself. But, the same thing happens to him.
22 Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Seku. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” “Over in Naioth at Ramah,” they said. 23 So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even on him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. 24 He stripped off his garments, and he too prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay naked all that day and all that night. This is why people say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
God is in control, Saul. When will you learn? Are you so blind? God’s will is going to be accomplished, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
How many times do I forget this? Is there anything I can do to change the outcome? Better to keep my eyes on Him and enjoy the ride.
I think it’s interesting about how Jonathan “became one spirit” with David. One translation says “their souls were knitted together.” We aren’t told what exactly drew him to David, but it’s easy to see that David was admired by many because of his deeds. It says elsewhere that he is a handsome young man. And his impressive victory with a giant was enough to impress anybody. But, something about how Jonathan’s dad, Saul, was speaking to David really clinches the deal for Jonathan and they become kindred spirits. I wonder what kind of father Saul was to Jonathan. Saul seems very self-serving, so I wonder if Jonathan ever received such words of praise from his father. Perhaps this is one of the things that drew Jonathan to David.
This chapter begins the growing suspicion of Saul towards David. Saul starts to fear for his throne, although David clearly gives no indication that is what he’s after. As a matter of fact, David’s humility is clearly demonstrated by his remarks in verse 18:
“But David said to Saul, ‘Who am I, and what is my family or my clan in Israel, that I should become the king’s son-in-law?'”
Anyone interested in the throne would surely have seen that to marry a king’s daughter was the next logical step. Saul seems to miss this particular nuance, however, and his paranoid suspicions continue.
It’s interesting to note that although David was promised Saul’s daughter Merab in marriage, on the day she was to be given to David, she was instead given to Adriel. This was an act of great injustice, and accordingly this marriage was cursed by God, and the children from the marriage, were cut off by God (see 2 Samuel 21:8,9).
The other interesting thing I see is the method Saul was using to get rid of David. He was apparently thinking that by giving him a wife would distract him and he’d be more likely to be killed in battle. And, he kept sending him to battles that must have been seemingly impossible to win. Finally, Saul told David to bring him back 100 Philly foreskins! An odd request, for sure. But, for David to kill 100 of the enemy? Well, God blessed and he returned to the king with 100 Philly tubesteaks. (sorry)
Anyway, do you notice that the same tactics Saul used with David are later what David will use against Uriah? Never noticed that before.
The bottom line for me in all this is to keep my eyes on the Lord. Seeking His will, and only His will, is the only thing that’s going to keep me from making a mess out of things. Things are starting to fly apart in David’s world, but David seems to not be distracted. He is humble, not self-seeking, and is concerned about obeying the Lord. Therefore, the Lord blesses everything he does – even if the odds are stacked against him.
Lord, I want to keep my eyes on you only. Help me to serve you, not myself, today.
I mean, what 9 foot tall, heavily armored, highly skilled warrior stands a chance against a teen-ager in a robe with a sling-shot and the power of God almighty?
David is relentless in his faith. Despite the fact that his father has no confidence in him and keeps him home to tend the sheep, only to take some bread to his older brothers who are fighting on the front line…
Despite the fact that his older brothers mock him and tell him to go home and tend the sheep when he does show up…
Despite the fact that the king himself tells him he’s just a boy and that he could never fight the giant…
Despite the fact that the nine foot giant laughs and mocks him when he approaches with sticks and stones…
David has confidence in the Lord. He trusts that God would not allow this Philly giant to mock God or His chosen people. He remembers how God helped him slay the bear and the lion by hand when they tried to take his sheep.
And he knows that God will protect him now. So he runs (not walks) to the battle line and with a single, smooth stone takes down this enemy – with only one thought on his mind: glorifying God! Look what he says:
“You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
Now he has the king’s attention. Now, his brothers and his father have a new respect. Now, the entire nation of Israel know who he is – not that he was seeking that, but he was seeking to glorify God. As a result, he is now honored because he saved his people.
What giants do you face? There are things I struggle with that seem like giants. They mock me when I let my guard down. They seem insurmountable when I think of how “I” am going to solve them. But, if I realize who I am and who has my back, there is no need to hesitate or worry. I can run to the battle line and deal with them. Not only will the giants be slain, but as I battle the giants in the name of God, I will be blessed and honored.
Good things to meditate on today…
Reading about the disobedient Israelites and arrogant Saul brings me down! Enter David, son of Jesse…
Samuel is mourning Saul, but God tells him to get some oil and go anoint the next king. Samuel hesitates because the current king still lives! He would be risking his life. But Samuel trusts and heads to his next assignment, despite the risk.
It’s interesting that his own father does not consider David to be king-worthy. All Jesse’s sons are present for Samuel to evaluate – except David. Samuel asks Jesse if these are ALL his sons. I love Jesse’s answer:
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
Jesse’s like, “Well, ya there’s one more, but it’s just David. Why would you even ask about him? He’s out there somewhere…” Wouldn’t you bring all your sons before Samuel if Samuel asked you to bring all your sons?
God judges the heart. He selects the weak for positions of honor. He does not consider height or appearance, but seeks hearts that are after Him.
So Samuel anoints David as the next king.
Wait…what about the current king? What are we to do about him?
Well, isn’t it a strange coincidence that King Saul somehow randomly recruits David to play the lyre for him? No coincidence. God is at work. His will is going to be accomplished. There’s nothing anyone can do about it.
Lastly, it’s noteworthy to point out something in verse 23. Did you catch it?
“Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.”
In the first part of the verse, it says “the spirit from God” and in the last part, “the evil spirit would leave”.
Seems God is the one sending the evil spirit. Upon researching this a bit, you’ll find that it is inconsistent with God’s character to directly send evil spirits. Although He does punish people for their disobedience (and Saul is clearly disobedient to God), so some have suggested God simply allowed the evil spirit, not directly sent it.
I tend to think this is more a matter of linguistics. The word used for “evil spirit” here is the word rauch, which has a wide range of translations, including air (i.e., breath or wind); the vital principle of life or animating force; the rational mind where thinking and decision-making occurs; the Holy Spirit of God (Gesenius, 1847, pp. 760-761) and disposition of mind or attitude (Harris, et al., 1980, 2:836).
Furthermore, the word used for “evil” here is , which is translated “bad,” “unhappy,” or “sad of heart or mind” (Gesenius, p. 772).
Could it be that Saul was suffering from his own bad attitude? There have been many times I’ll sit and listen to music to chase away a bad mood.
The bottom line is this: God has intervened and suddenly David, a small shepherd boy whose own father considers him simply that, is now God’s anointed and finds himself somehow inexplicably in service as the king’s own armor-bearer.
Coincidence? I think not…
Stay tuned, it’s just starting to get good!
Up to this point, God was the King of the nation of Israel. God’s plan was to assign prophets to be the liaison between He and them. And that was working well through Samuel. Unfortunately, Samuel’s sons were selfish, greedy little perverts.
The nation of Israel did not like this arrangement, so they looked around at how other nations were doing it and demanded their own king.
To be honest, I don’t really get why they were in such a hurry to get into a situation where a king would recruit their children into the army, where they would be forced to labor for the king, where their own daughters would be taken from them to serve in the king’s kitchens and courts, etc.
Surely, it would not have been worse than a few bad-apple prophet sons.
“But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.” So Samuel repeated to the Lord what the people had said, and the Lord replied, “Do as they say, and give them a king.” Then Samuel agreed and sent the people home.
And so it begins…
Lord, I know I can be as selfish and short-sighted as these people. Forgive me when I get so fixed on what I want, when I want it, that I miss out on Your best plan for my life. Today, I choose to surrender. I choose Your way, not mine.
Okay a few cool things I noticed today in 1 Samuel chapter 3.
First was how Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Verse 3 says: “Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli.”
Later in this chapter, we find out that Samuel didn’t even know the Lord yet (see verse 7). Yet, he was “serving the Lord” by assisting Eli. I read this and thought to myself how complicated I try to make things. Sometimes serving the Lord is as simple as doing well what He’s asked us to do in the place He has put us. I’m sure being an assistant to a priest was not the most glamorous job in the day, but this is how Samuel served God.
The next thing I noticed is the fact that God called Samuel. While it’s true that God does use you and me to evangelize and spread the good news, there are a few times in scripture when God does the calling all by Himself. Certainly, the story of the conversion of Saul to Paul is a great example. Paul thought he was doing God a favor by persecuting a little religious movement called The Way, but God had different ideas. Saul did not come to God on his own – God called him. Jesus called people during His time on earth, too. When the Son of God comes up to you and says, “Follow Me” that’s a pretty good example of God calling you directly.
Here, we see a kind of humorous calling from God to Samuel – late at night while he was sleeping. After the third time of being awakened in the night, Eli, being wise, finally recognized this as the calling of God and had to tell Samuel how to respond (because Samuel did not yet know God).
Which is is another cool thing I noticed in today’s chapter. We often need those older and wiser in the faith to point things out to us. That’s why it’s so important for each of us to have a Christian “sage” in your life.
I love the last part of this chapter. It’s encouraging to read how Samuel grew up with the Lord:
“As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable. And all Israel, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh and gave messages to Samuel there at the Tabernacle.”
At first I was thinking about how cool it would have been to have been raised in the Temple with the priest, and how much I could have learned. However, I re-read this passage and see that Eli is not even mentioned – well, except for how he did not discipline his sons, and how God was going to reign down in judgement on him and his family. So, Samuel grew up and THE LORD was with him.
We can walk with God – every minute of every day. It’s what God wants for us. Yet, how simple is it to get distracted or busy and not spend the day with Him? I love John Eldredge’s book entitled, “Walking With God”. This book has some helpful insight into how to walk with God in really practical ways.
Lord, I want to serve you where you’ve put me – even though sometimes it seems like I could be doing something a bit more glamorous. Forgive my pride. Thank you that I have wise “sages” speaking life into me. And, today, I choose to walk with You.
I have been thinking a lot lately about how I ended up where I’m at. I am so happy to be doing what I know God has wired me up to do. I still have struggles, but they’re much different than before. I think it all has to do with the fact that I’ve finally realized that trying to live by my own plan, my own desires and my own initiative – gets me nowhere.
I struggled with relationships. As a result, I’m 0 for 2 when it comes to marriages.
I struggled with careers. As a result, several times I’ve gone from entry level to executive, only to get laid off and right back in the same situation.
Financially, I’ve had jobs earning 6 figures and I’ve had jobs that paid just minimum wage. Yet, I’ve never lived extravagantly or in need.
So, when I read the following verses in 2 Corinthians today, it confirmed some things I’ve been thinking about:
11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
I realize it’s not about me. When I live that way, I go no where, I struggle with no reward, I suffer and end up right back at the same spot where I realize it’s not about me.
I may seem out of my right mind, but I want to live for him who died and was raised again, not for myself. How arrogant of me to think I have a better plan for my life than my creator!
Lord, forgive my selfish motives. I want to live for you and you alone. I trust the plan you have for my life.